As your dog ages, he may develop some health problems. This can be a normal part of the process, but it’s important to recognize signs of trouble and to get him checked out by a vet.
Some of the most common health issues that dogs have to deal with are kidney disease, diabetes, cancer and arthritis. Some of these conditions are hereditary and can be passed down to other dogs.
As you may already know, dogs have kidneys, which help to balance nutrients in the body; filter waste; control blood pressure; increase red blood cell production; and metabolize calcium.
When the kidneys are no longer working properly, the result is known as chronic kidney disease or renal failure. The signs of CKD are usually not noticed until the condition is advanced.
Early detection and treatment of underlying problems can slow progression and delay or prevent kidney disease. This can help you and your dog enjoy a healthy, happy life.
Diabetes is a common condition that can develop in dogs of any age. It occurs when the body doesn’t take in enough glucose (a type of sugar) to power cells and organs.
Symptoms of diabetes often appear slowly, and may not be noticed until the disease is well advanced. Generally, they include increased hunger and thirst, weight loss, frequent or copious urination (some dogs start having accidents in the house), and lethargy.
Dogs with diabetes are also at risk for developing gum, skin and urinary infections due to their high-sugar diet. These infections are “silent” and don’t show symptoms until they become severe, so regular urine testing is important.
When your dog starts having health problems, it’s important to get them diagnosed as soon as possible. This means regular wellness screenings with your vet and testing if necessary, such as blood work, ultrasound or x-rays.
If your pet’s eyes start to develop a cloudiness or redness, this could be due to cataracts, an eye disease that can be treated surgically. If you see a lump on your dog’s neck or chest, call your vet to make an appointment.
A veterinarian may also palpate (feel with their hands) the spleen or lymph nodes to diagnose cancer in those areas. Lymphoma in those places can cause your dog to act lethargic, vomit, have diarrhea or lose weight.
Dogs can start having arthritis at any age, although it’s more common in older dogs. Risk factors for developing arthritis include poor conformation, overweight or obese pets, joint abnormalities and injuries that damage joints like tearing a cruciate ligament or patella luxation (kneecap dislocation).
A veterinarian can diagnose arthritis by performing a physical examination of the affected joints and taking x-rays. They may also take blood and joint-fluid samples to rule out a serious infection in the joints.
Treatment for arthritis focuses on controlling pain and reducing inflammation. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), injectable steroids and visco-supplementation, which lubricates and improves flexibility, are often recommended. Other therapies include physiotherapy, water therapy, laser and stem cell therapy.
When you see these symptoms, it’s important to bring your dog to the vet immediately. They can then perform different tests to help diagnose the cause of your dog’s health problems and rule out other possible illnesses.
Dementia in dogs is a common health problem and is often overlooked by pet owners. But like senility or Alzheimer’s in humans, dementia can be a serious disease with no cure.
Symptoms include confusion and disorientation, whining or barking for no reason, and forgetting where they are going. It can also lead to accidents in the house or outside, so it’s crucial to be aware of these signs and bring them to the vet if you notice any of them.